Chapter 1 (first bit)

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Monday 7th January 2013

They say that if you make a mistake when you’re 18 and it’s still bothering you when you’re 43, you know you’ve gone wrong somewhere. And everyone often spends their whole lives searching where. 2012 definitely was definitely the absolute worst year of my life. I have no idea how so many things could go so wrong in 12 months but oh boy they did. I’m convinced nothing will ever be as bad as that. I don’t know how many things managed to cock up but oh boy they did. If there’s one thing I know though, boarding school isn’t a mistake. I know it from the moment I board that plane because for the first time in my life, I have complete freedom. Complete freedom at 14, every teenagers dream.

This is the turning point for me, though I don’t realise it now. I fly up from Leeds to Aberdeen then from Aberdeen to Inverness and I am now sitting in Inverness Airport by myself with only my IPod and phone for company and my three suitcases and I am bored out of my mind. There’s only so much Calvin Harris you can have blaring in your ears without it driving you mad. And of course there’s no Wi-Fi that I can connect to. So I am feckin bored.

The thing is; I didn’t really have a say about going to boarding school. I had been suspended from Filey High then when I was allowed to go back, I refused and after a week of school refusing my mum had come to the end of her tether so she spoke to My Aunt Constance who suggested I be sent to the boarding school her son, my cousin Roderick has just been expelled from for unspeakable reasons.

I go and check outside and it’s horizontally chucking it down. My taxi pulls up through the sleeting rain and I throw all my suitcases in the boot and settle in for a nice 2 hour journey going at 40 miles an hour down a really windy road into the middle of god-damn know where.

What was I doing this time yesterday? Oh yes. Not my proudest moment. I have a sudden flashback of me kicking up a huge fuss and doing a lot of shouting then my stepsister Claire practically dragging me outside and slapping me around the face:

“You have no idea how lucky you are!” she yelled. “You have given one ticket of this hellhole and you never have to come back! How can you refuse it! It’s been given to you on a fucking silver platter and you’re saying no? How? I’d do anything to get out of here!” Then she turns away and mutters: “You have no idea how lucky you are. When she put it like that, I did see her point of view but it turned out that my mum was going to send me whether I liked it or not.

I arrive in Strathcarron at 6:45 after what feels like hours in that bloody taxi with a driver who I can’t understand and he has no idea what I am saying either so that’s fun. Because it is January, the grounds of St Richmond College are all bare and windswept and muddy but I could imagine in the summer it’s beautiful. I get taken up the drive, past a few massive buildings, round a small roundabout and then up another drive and around a sharp bend which the driver swerves quite violently around and I hear my luggage tip.

This is a very crappy drawing of Arkansas House because I find description very tedious at times and also because Arkansas is so hard describe because it becomes so much more than just that. We’re all given one chance to belong, a chance to truly shine and looking up at that house, I see the next four years of my life, and all I have to do is get through them. I just have to adapt and survive.

The Taxi driver drops me off and I stand for a moment looking up at the front door, feeling properly terrified. For the first time in my life, I’m on my own with no parents to tell me what to do and although it is quite exciting, it’s also really overwhelming.

I drag my luggage to the front door and to my surprise, it’s open. I dump my stuff and just look around. The entire doors and corridors look exactly the same and I has no idea where I should I go.

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